Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

What is Federated Learning?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IoT , AI

Mains level : AI and its applications

An improvement in a Machine Learning (ML) model, called ‘federated learning’, is said to enable companies to develop new ways of collecting anonymous data without compromising their privacy.

Data privacy is the right of a citizen to have control over how personal information is collected and used. Data protection is a subset Right of Privacy under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

What is ‘federated learning’?

  • Federated learning is an ML method used to train an algorithm across multiple decentralised devices or servers holding data samples.
  • It doesn’t exchange data with the devices, meaning there is no central dataset or server that stores the information.
  • Standard ML models require all data to be centralised in a single server. Implementation of federated learning eliminates the need for maintaining a storage hub.
  • The term was first introduced in a 2016 Google study titled ‘Communication-efficient learning of deep networks from decentralized data.’
  • Google emphasised mobile phones and tablets, stating that modern devices contain special features like speech recognition and image models that can store large amounts of data.
  • Since then, Google has used the technique is various products, including Gboard, which provides text and phrase suggestions to the keyboard.

How this works

  • Federated learning aims to train an algorithm, like deep neural networks, on multiple local datasets contained in local nodes, without explicitly exchanging data.
  • The general principle involves simply exchanging parameters between these nodes. Parameters include a number of federated learning rounds, the total number of nodes, and learning rate.
  • The distinct advantage of the model is its ability to reduce privacy and security risks by limiting the attack surface to only the device, rather than the device and the cloud, Google stated in the study.

Why need such technology?

  • Smart home devices like speakers and smartwatches collect and share data with other devices and systems over the network.
  • These Internet of Things (IoT) devices are equipped with sensors and software that store a user’s private information like body measurements and location.
  • This large chunk of stored data is used by the device makers to improve their products and services.

Applications

  • Federated learning is said to have application in healthcare, where hospitals and pharmaceutical companies can exchange data for treating diseases without sharing private clinical information.
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